Have you noticed how football commentators tend to give their votes for best player on the ground to someone who played on the winning side? There is no reason in logic why this should be so. There is a related trait of the commentators. Their after game analysis is dominated by the result. They show two traits of so much history – it is written by the winners, and it is written with hindsight. You are generally left with the impression that the game was never going to end in any other way. That is of course silly, but the favouring of votes to players from the winning team is scarcely less silly.
The issue came to a head after the recent three match State of Origin series. Three judges – all former great players – awarded the Man of the Series to Billy Slater, the Captain of Queensland, and by common consent one of the greatest players this code has seen. (I should disclose my biases. Billy plays for my team, Melbourne Storm; I loathe New South Wales in rugby league; and their coach justified that loathing by an inane, crude, and false insult to Cameron Smith, the Storm Captain, and former Queensland and Australian captain, one of the best footballers of may code that this nation has produced.)
This decision in favour of Billy Slater was denounced in sections of the press as insane. There were two grounds for the accusation. Billy had only played two games; and his side lost one of them.
Well, the three judges – Mal Meninga, Darren Lockyer, and Laurie Daley – have more knowledge of the game in their little fingers than the entire sports press corps – who in this case merely underline the fallacy that the nest on ground must – must –come from the winning side.
Some statistical genius might look at the extent to which this fallacy affects voting for the Brownlow Medal.